Catherine Morris, senior account manager, ATI Industrial Automation, Apex, North Carolina, has been named the first woman chair of Robotic Industries Association (RIA), the industry trade group representing more than 265 companies involved in robotics in North America. Morris becomes RIA's 20th chair since its founding in 1974, succeeding Dean Elkins of Yaskawa Motoman, who served as chair in 2010 and 2011. Elkins remains on the RIA Board as Past Chair.
Morris was first elected to the RIA Board in 2003 and most recently served as the board's first vice chair. She is a past chair and current member of the RIA Membership Committee and also chairs the show committee for Automate 2013, RIA's flagship event. She has been an account manager with ATI for 16 years, with a primary focus on key OEMs and automotive customers. In addition to being RIA's first woman chair, she also is the first to represent a component supplier company. Previous chairs have either represented robot manufacturer or system integrator companies.
"I hope to bring a new perspective and energy to the chair role," said Morris. "I'm passionate about robotics and know that automation is the key to our country's future economic success. My primary focus as chair will be to expand the Automate 2013 trade show and conference in order to spread the message about why and how companies can benefit by automating. Additionally, I will focus on making our new Certified Robotic Integrator program a success. This will have enormous benefit to integrators and end users alike and will lead to more successful automation systems. Finally, I will focus on strengthening the links between RIA and the educational community. In order to get students excited about robotics and automation and prepare them for future career opportunities, RIA will work more closely with community colleges and universities that offer automation courses."
Morris then added, "I am truly honored and humbled by the confidence placed in me by my mentors and peers and will do my best to lead our industry forward. I want companies of all types and sizes to recognize the importance of being a vital part of their industry's trade association."
Morris and past chair Elkins are joined on the RIA Executive Committee by first vice chair Stu Shepherd of KUKA Robotics, second vice chair John Dulchinos of Adept Technology, secretary Curtis Richardson of Spirit Aerosystems and RIA president Jeff Burnstein. The RIA board is comprised of 19 industry leaders.
Re-elected to new two year terms for 2012-13 are Joe Campbell of ABB Robotics, Mick Estes of FANUC Robotics America, and Michael Jacobs of Applied Manufacturing Technologies. Tom Tobin of Comau was elected to his first two-year term. The remaining board members for 2012 include John Burg, Ellison Technologies Automation; Tim DeRosett, Motoman Robotics; Joe Gemma, Staubli Robotics; Joyce Guthrie, USPS; Dana Komin, General Motors; Kevin Lambton, Pepperidge Farm; Mark Lewandowski, Procter & Gamble; Scot Lindemann, JR Automation; and Steve Rock, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.